Despite being a relative newcomer to the music industry, founded only in 1999, Ableton has really made a splash in the world of computer music. Before the release of Ableton’s Live software in 2001, digital audio workstations (DAWs) all offered fairly similar, linear workflows, with arrangements of audio and MIDI parts moving from left to right along the timeline. Live’s innovative ‘session view’ changed all of that, allowing the DAW to be played as an instrument, with parts arranged and rearranged on the fly and in response to the crowd.
The session view offered an innovative way to work in the studio as well. If you can produce great four-bar loops, but can’t get from there to a complete song, you could now hit record and play about, jamming with your loops in the session view, arranging complete songs in a much more creative and ‘organic’ way.
Continuous product updates have made Live a serious player in the DAW market and led to the development of bespoke hardware controllers, Max/MSP integration, additional virtual instruments and a feature set that gets better with every release. As Ableton continue to push the boundaries, you really do wonder ‘where can they go next?’